Game of Thrones: The First of His Name Review
I like when writers throw out a little surprise. For the most part, this episode was light on anything noteworthy. However, it had one massive tidbit of information that should have thrown everyone for a loop. I didn’t think that the episode would feature an almost throwaway line in the middle of the episode that would change everything that we thought we knew since episode one of the show. But if you’re going to change what we all thought for 35 episodes, this was the way to do it.
Spoiler Alert: As is always the case, I’ll be spoiling this week’s episode by examining it in detail. All previous episodes and the first two books (already covered in the series) are also fair game. This means no spoilers for A Storm of Swords onwards.
Let’s stay away from Littlefinger for a minute and start with the ending and Jon Snow. What jumped out at me this week wasn’t anything that anyone did but what someone said. Karl mentioned something about fighting with honour to Jon. That wasn’t the first time that fighting with honour has been mentioned. Bronn mentioned that to Jaime last week.
I don’t think that lines like that are coincidences. Being mentioned once is just dialogue. Being mentioned twice is foreshadowing. It’s something the writers want you to keep in mind.
It’s not like not fighting with honour is a rarity in Westeros. Bronn was accused of not fighting with honour when he helped Tyrion out at the Eyrie. Tyrion rallied the troops at the Battle of Blackwater Bay by saying “Those men fight with honour. Let’s go kill them!” No one can say that the Lannister-led slaughter of Robb Stark and the Stark men was an honourable thing. And last week, Jaime didn’t think much of Bronn’s honour when he smacked him across the face with his own golden fist.
Perhaps it’s not just building to something this season. Maybe it’s a gradual realization that fighting with honour only gets you killed. It’s those willing to eschew honour that are able to survive. Dying an honourable death still means that you’re dead.
By the way, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we didn’t get the happy Jon and Bran reunion. I figured that it would be Jon letting Bran go off to do his thing with Bran never noticing in a straight role reversal from last season. Still, we got a Jon and Ghost reunion. That was probably a lot better than any Jon and Bran reunion could have been. Okay, I would’ve liked a Jon and Hodor reunion too.
Speaking of Hodor, we got Bran’s party trick of warging into the mind of Hodor. I wonder if he can do that on everyone or, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say, only the weak-minded. Anyway, Bran warged into Hodor to save himself from Locke doing Roose Bolton’s bidding and eliminating every last Stark that could pose a threat to his rule of the North. I’d say that it was a good plan except for running into a child who can control a giant. That probably wasn’t a part of the plan.
What should have stuck with me more was this week’s time with Sansa, Littlefinger and Sansa’s crazy relatives.
This week, we find out that Littlefinger really would let the Seven Kingdoms burn just to rule over the ashes. Not only did he orchestrate the death of King Joffrey and frame Tryion for it, he also orchestrated virtually everything since the start of the show.
In admitting that he convinced Lysa to poison her husband, blame the Lannisters and tell her sister, he set off a chain of events that’s played out perfectly for him. He got some advantageous bounces along the way, that’s for certain. The Lannisters killing off King Robert was just what Littlefinger needed to start the war to destroy Westeros. Well, that’s assuming that Lord Baelish didn’t have anything to do with it.
But if you look at the key events of the series, it seems as though Littlefinger had a hand in almost all of them. He had Jon Arryn killed which led to Ned being named the Hand of the King. While he didn’t anticipate Bran getting shoved out a window, identifying the later attacker’s sword as belonging to Tyrion helped. Pulling the heel turn on Ned in King’s Landing led to his beheading which kicked off a massive war. He forged the alliance with the Tyrells that saved King’s Landing. And now, he’s killed a King and likely sparked Stannis’s interest in reclaiming the Iron Throne. All in a day’s work.
I don’t see how manipulating Lady Lysa and Robin is part of the master plan of ruling over Westeros. However, we know what the end game is. Littlefinger wants to rule the Seven Kingdoms by any means necessary. I still don’t see how this is going to help him unless selling Lysa up the river is part of the plan. He’s the wild card that will be the most fun to track over the next few seasons.
Also, what’s the deal with incest and Westeros? Is this more common in the dark/middle ages than history books will tell you? Marrying off Sansa to Robin is as good as incest seeing as they’re first cousins. There’s some strange stuff happening in the bedrooms of Westeros. Unless you’re Lady Lysa. In her case, some exciting things happen in the bedroom. Either she’s easy to please or she could put Littlefinger’s girls to shame when it comes to faking it.
And, naturally, Lady Lysa is still absolutely crazy. So is Robin. The thin air in the Eyrie must cause some serious brain damage.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Lena Headey had some pretty good moments this week. Stepping between Tommen and Maggie’s gaze after the coronation was a slightly clichéd moment but still lovable for a show that so loves to defy convention. Her scene with Maggie does make me respect Cersei a little more. She admitted that she loved Joffrey but he was a terrible person. It’s such a real scene for someone who was completely over-the-top at the end of the wedding episode.
The little discussion with Tywin doesn’t really seem to move the plot much but you had two great actors in a quiet scene talking about how to hold power through means other than military might. The things one must do for power. Even if it means being in debt up to your eyeballs. The Lannisters always pay their debts… unless you’re the Iron Bank. Then there will be a slight delay.
Compared to last week, this week’s episode seemed to move us a little closer to action. It certainly felt like we’re moving towards another climax. With the start of the trial and two Lannister/Tyrell weddings upcoming, stuff is about to go down. It’s just a matter of what is actually going to happen. Given how unpredictable the show is, you don’t know what’s going to happen until it’s too late.
Other random points of note:
- I love Ser Barristan and all but if you want to sell a full-scale invasion of Westeros, shouldn’t you mention the dragons that will burns the Seven Kingdoms so Dany can rule over the ashes?
- On that note, Dany clearly heard Tywin’s wisdom speech from two weeks ago. She could use a little wisdom so she can actually rule over the lands she plans on conquering.
- Not appearing this week: Tyrion Lannister. When was the last time that we could say that? Also, he was quite quickly bounced from the opening credits. Not even credited. Bronn got a credit and I don’t remember seeing him this week.
- Brienne and Pod #TrueDetectiveSeason2
Next week’s episode is called The Laws of Gods and Men. This one is likely to be all about Tyrion and the trial. We’ll get a good indication of how this will go next week as Tyrion faces down his father. Sure, there are two other judges but Tywin is probably going to decide this one single-handedly. Also, Dany works on being a ruler, Stannis and Davos come up with their next plan of attack and Ramsay Snow being Ramsay Snow. I’m really looking forward to more Ramsay Snow. Such a boss.